The Scottish meat industry is defending its image
Processed meat and its influence on health of the consumers is becoming a hot topic in Scotland, where three leading organisations - Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) and the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Associations (SFMTA) - are urging the press to avoid alarmist reporting on meat and health.
"Eat a balanced diet" is the advice that Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), is giving to the consumers in Scotland.
The move by the organisations follows several articles in the Scottish media relating to processed meat and health, with a particular focus on school meals. Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton of the Meat Advisory Panel said: “It is widely acknowledged that children should have a balanced diet. It is also widely recognised that salty or higher fat options, including some processed meats, should be eaten in moderation with preference given to lean red meats which provide a range of vitamins, minerals and high-quality protein."
In her opinion, the health evidence relating to nitrates and nitrites in processed meat is not strong enough to completely ban foods containing these from school meals. “Preservatives are already strictly controlled by EU regulations and perform an important safety function, helping to protect people from food poisoning bacteria. Therefore, a balance needs to be struck,” she added.
Mr Clarke has also mentioned the fact that "this sort of reporting also distracts attention from some of the main threats to human health which could make a huge difference, including low levels of physical exercise and lack of intake of fruit and vegetables."
He also pointed out that, unlike continental-style sausages and cured meats, British-style sausages do not contain nitrates or nitrites. "Consumers should eat a balanced diet, including red meat and plenty of fruit and vegetables, and maintain a healthy lifestyle", added Alan Clarke.
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